Theatre in Wales

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"National Theatre Wales Show Has to Have Theatre In It": Ignored

National Theatre: Comment

Company Non-Compliance with Statutory Obligations , Public Culture of Wales , January 26, 2023
National Theatre: Comment by Company Non-Compliance with Statutory Obligations This article, the second of three, follows that of four weeks ago, below 31st December 2022.

That first article opened with the cause for its writing. My community had not had a night out with its own national theatre since October 2011.

The article followed the company over seven years, the move from a centre point of Wales' theatre to its fringe.

The conclusion read “A company does not receive revenue funding to occupy culture's edge.” There remain questions as to the how and the why. This article, in two parts, looks at the issue of rules.

* * * *

Rules are overt; codes of behaviour less so. They serve two purposes for individuals and organisations alike. They act as a halter on whim, caprice, errant action. But they also denote a yielding of ego and self-attention, a recognition of ecology, a participation in a whole that is beyond the entity. It is all there in theatre; it courses through the drama of Schiller.

A company is a bounded thing, incorporation a form that comes with obligations. At its forefront is the duty to give account. The National Theatre of Scotland published its accounts for the year ending 31st March 2022 on 17th October.

As of 25th January the National Theatre of Wales had yet to publish accounts for its year ending 31st March 2022. Late accounts are not just a serious issue but an omen. Their usual cause is that auditors are facing difficulty with their signing-off.

* * * *

The company now seeks a third Chair. The language of recruitment is peculiar; sectional and political aspirations apparently outranking artistic objectives.

However, the trustees are bound by the objectives of the National Theatre of Wales as expressed in the document of incorporation.

Point three in the Memorandum of Association dated 9th September 2008 states:

“to procure the performance of and increase the understanding of the dramatic arts in all their forms.”

* * * *

On 21st September 2018 forty playwrights wrote to Sir Clive Jones. They were followed in support by actors and directors.

The letter pointed to the corporate culture: “seems to take pride in ridding itself of a theatrical identity.”

The Board was asked to overhaul its aims.

“A National Theatre Wales show has to have theatre in it...if it’s not in some sense theatre, NTW should not be funding it.”

The letter mentioned an exhibition of photographs taken with disposable cameras in Haverfordwest. The logo of the company was prominent at the venue which had no visitors. The display was void of all artistic attribute.

The Board rejected the writers and actors of Wales. A prize-winning dramatist wrote the conclusion:

“A letter of response misconstrued and misrepresented our discussions and points of suggestion. The narrative then became unconstructive and rather hostile.”

Reference: link below 22 September 2019

https://community.nationaltheatrewales.org/profiles/blogs/a-message-from-the-chair-of-national-theatre-wales-board-neges-ga

* * * *

The company continued with activities unrelated to theatre for the people of Wales.

From the Trustees Report year end 31st March 2020: stand-up comedy, song-writing, photography, radio.

From the Trustees Report year end 31st March 2020: landscape art installation, a boat ride, cooking event, gallery exhibitions

From the Trustees Report year end 31st March 2021: “the film contained interviews with 16 people from Pembrokeshire.”

As above the trustees have yet to report on the year that ended 31st March 2022.

Phil Morris in his last review of the company wrote: “NTW have often struck me as frustrated wannabe film-makers rather than theatre artists.”

References:

Phil Morris: https://www.walesartsreview.org/possible-national-theatre-wales/

From the links below:

01 February 2019: the Arts Council of Wales, value-for-money assertion, and £500 subsidy per audience member.

15 January 2019 and 01 December 2018: Radio 4 Front Row on Scotland & Wales

01 May 2019: National Theatre Wales and non-theatre events.

* * * *

The trustees are also governed by the document held by the Charity Commission:

“to procure the performance of [sic] an increase in the understanding of the dramatic arts in all their forms in Wales.”

The Commissioners are clear:

“As a trustee, you must run your charity in a way that complies with your charity’s governing document and the law. This includes making sure your charity achieves its purposes.

“Your charity’s governing document is your starting point. Every charity has a governing document.

“Focus on your charity’s purposes. You must deliver only your charity’s purposes. Your charity’s funds can only be spent on supporting the delivery of these purposes.

“Make sure you understand: what your charity is set up to achieve (its purposes), who your charity is there to benefit (its beneficiaries); what your charity can or cannot do to carry out its purposes (its powers).

“Drifting into activities that your charity is not set up to do. This can happen if you do not focus on your charity’s purposes.”

Reference:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/charity-purposes-and-rules

* * * *

On 24th November 2022 Jackie Wylie announced the programme for 2023 for the National Theatre of Scotland:

“The season has five world premieres, eight touring productions visiting more than 40 venues across Scotland and beyond.”

At 25th January 2023 Lorne Campbell's theatre programme for the year of 2023 for the National Theatre of Wales has no tours. Thus the majority in Wales will have no sight of their own national theatre over the coming year.

Performances for the public amount to seven days in Swansea in March. No credits of actors, designer, lighting, sound are given in the publicity.

References:

National Theatre of Scotland's programme for 2023:

https://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com/latest/national-theatre-of-scotland-announces-2023-programme

National Theatre of Wales' programme for 2023:

https://www.nationaltheatrewales.org/latest

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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